The position should go to a young, internationally oriented woman. One of the students attending gets straight to the point during the walk-in session discussing the profile of the new Rector. While there’s praise all around for Huib Pols, the current Rector Magnificus, students would like to see someone representing a different section of society at the helm after he steps down.

What requirements does the new Rector have to meet? This past Wednesday, the Supervisory Board’s Marja van Bijsterveldt and Hans van Duijn and Pieter Cortenbach of the head-hunting firm Vanderkruijs camped out for an entire day in meeting rooms on campus, to hear the opinions of interested parties from all sections of the university: deans, education and research directors, researchers, professors, support staff, and students.

A basic outline of the profile was prepared prior to the walk-in session, clearly defining the demands of the position: a leader for the academic community, someone who can effectively network, who has a good relationship with students and student associations, and is an internationally respected researcher with affinity for diversity – the list goes on. The new Rector must be nothing less than a Superman (or Wonder Woman), and the input of the preferences of the students, academic and support staff hasn’t even been added to the job profile yet.

Big difference

Nine students pull up a chair. They are representatives of a sport association, student associations, and the University Council. This walk-in session clearly demonstrates that there is a big difference between the typical professor (fifty or older, white, male) and the upcoming generation (female, and/or hailing from all parts of the globe). Of the students present, seven are women and one of the two men is South Korean.

The session commences with lobbying. The sport association advocates for the importance of sport, while the student association emphasizes the importance of social activities. But the students have a wider agenda. The members of the University Council chiefly want a Rector who makes sustainability a priority. The students’ dream candidate is preferably a woman with an international background, and relatively young.

Open door

The other students present hope that the selection committee will primarily base its decision on qualifications instead of labels. Somebody with an ‘open mind’. And they want that the qualities of Huib Pols be retained: someone who can get along with virtually everyone, with authority, and an open door policy. In Pols’ case, this can be taken literally: he has a walk-in session for students every morning before eight o’clock. Students often use this opportunity to meet with him.

The students feel the new Rector doesn’t necessarily have to come from Rotterdam or Erasmus University. They’re unanimous that a breath of fresh air from outside wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.